“Groundbreaking” is a word that one rarely uses when talking about the venerable 1911 pistol. The gun has remained remarkably unchanged for more than a century. Sure, we have seen double action and the creation of a modular version. Double stacks and exotic materials are available. Still, when you go into a gun store, “old slabsides” is essentially the same.
One of the only problems with the design has been the magazine. Flimsy feed lips and not enough spring tension have been the bane of the 1911 magazine from the beginning. This issue has cost Chip McCormick many sleepless nights. That lack of rest eventually has finally paid off as Chip McCormick Custom has come to the market with three major innovations in the new Railed Power Mags for the 1911.
First, the feed lips have been replaced with rails. It was on one of those sleepless nights, Chip found inspiration: roll the lips inward, adding more rigidity. He conservatively claims that the “rails” (as he calls them), are twice as strong, but being ellipses, experts estimate that four times the strength is more likely. In addition to the strength, the rounded shape of the rails allows the cartridge to exit with amazing smoothness. The rounds pop out with amazing smoothness. The days are gone where your shell casing will have scratches from the magazine lips.
Second, Chip redesigned the follower which allows him to use a spring that is possibly the strongest on the market. The 10 rounder has 19 wraps of rocket wire in the tube. That kind of lift is unprecedented in a 1911 magazine.
Third, and perhaps as “game changing” as the rails, is the follower. In addition to being a leaf spring, which allows an extra round to be put into the magazine, it also has a secondary-spring action. The follower “twists” counterclockwise. This may not seem like a big thing, but when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The “twist” means that the follower only makes contact with the inside of the magazine body in three places, so friction is very low. In addition, there is a lot of clearance, so debris can’t bind it. The twist also forces the follower to “reach for” the slide stop as the front of it is as far to the left as possible.
Every chain has a weak link, But with herculean feed rails, an extra-strong spring and the twisting follower, where is the weakness? Remarkably, the 410 stainless, laser-welded tube is likely to be the first thing to fail. After thousands and thousands of reloads, the tube will swell, making it a little “sticky” when you put it into the gun. I don’t know if McCormick planned it, but a magazine that will warn you that it is at the end of its service life is nothing short of amazing.
I am not saying that slamming a fully loaded magazine into a gun at slide lock won’t eventually flay the lips open. Continually dropping loaded magazines onto hard surfaces will also cause damage. What I can,report is that after repeatedly slamming a 10-round Railed Power Mag into the gun at slide lock, loaded with 230-grain ammo as well as dropping them, loaded, onto a concrete, the feed rails stayed in “spec.”
One conclusion that I came to was that the term “groundbreaking” is, in fact, hyperbole. After all, the ground never broke. Nor did the magazine.